The Plus in Plus-Size Strategy
24 February 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
In the American market alone, up to 68% of female consumers now wear a size 14 or above.
There has been a relatively slow climb for the global industry to take heed, but the plus-size market is proving to have a vast earning potential that has hardly been tapped. There has been a noticeable increase in a growing number of women who feel they’re not only being under-represented, but whose needs are not being met in terms of retail offerings. What – if anything – has changed for the plus-size market, and what still needs to change?
What is the plus-size market like currently?
Large well-known brands such as Nike are beginning to take more of an active response to their responsibility to the plus-size market, extending sizing which could absorb overall costs more easily. Alongside this, independent brands are beginning to completely reshape how plus-size is seen, filling gaps that more established companies could only dream of doing. Now, more types of garments than ever before are readily available at the click of one button - with companies that take a clear body positive stance taking their accessibility out of the niche corners of retail and into the mainstream. Between 2013 and 2016 alone, there was a 14% increase in revenue in the plus-size category (US), a lot of which has been arguably accredited to social media. With the market now a supposed $24 billion opportunity to capitalise on, our increased use of social media has allowed for consumers to be empowered and to start more meaningful conversations, even if this does mean criticising the very brands that refuse to join the movement. Mainstream, ‘traditional’ companies – media and otherwise - have often avoided or ignored the needs of the customers who don’t fit into the conventional size 8 cookie cutter mould. As a result of this, many plus-size influencers have since emerged, launching their own ranges and celebrating others and events that can attract large followings in themselves.
What can still be done?
Since the dawn of social media itself, a bigger voice has been established for women to push pack against outdated marketing stereotypes and challenging brands to think beyond the limits they seem to have implemented. A shift is starting to happen in how ‘fuller figured’ women are perceived, being unapologetically recognized for the community’s diversity. Yet, there is still much more that needs to be achieved within this field. There is always room for continued growth, with more representation sorely needed. If plus-size consumers had to wait around for mainstream channels to get their act together, much that we have now would not have been achieved (a great example being Full Figured Fashion Week in New York). More fast-fashion brands (Zara, H&M) are providing more options, with high-fashion and ‘statement’ pieces still elusive. The emphasis needs to remain on having as many options and as much access as possible – if brands of all kinds continue to engage with the customer, technology and social media will always provide room for future innovators.
As with much of the industry, it’s a case of ‘adapt or get left behind’. Brands have still yet to full realize and action the needs of a growing community, with executives now noticing the potential growth and potential. Where sales potential has not been fully reached and deserved needs have not been met, the ball remains in the retailers’ court.
Image source: Pamela Mann